Tour De Fleece

I am thinking about joining the Tour De Fleece Group on Ravelry this year, 2017.  http://www.ravelry.com/groups/tour-de-fleece

The Tour de Fleece happens at the same time as the famous ride Tour de France.  In this case it runs from July 1st to 23rd with two days of rest, July 10th and 17th.  In theory this means that I would spin and post my results each of these days.  Since I will be obtaining a WooleeWinder as my Birthday Present, I hope that this goal will not only be attainable but enjoyable.  The WooleeWinder that I obtained to go with my Schacht Ladybug spinning wheel is the Bulky version, in order for this to work properly I also had to obtain the Bulky Orifice.  The purpose of the WooleeWinder is so that I will be able to skip switching hooks while I am filling my bobbin.  The bobbin and flyer will work together to fill the bobbin very evenly.  This will have the added benefit of allowing me to fit more on a bobbin, partially because it will be a larger bobbin, but also because the bobbin will fill evenly eliminating the hills and valleys that are naturally created on a bobbin when using hooks.   Since I have obtained the Bulky Plyer Flyer version I will also be able to create more art-yarns that I have been capable of in the past.  I will  have to see how plarn works on this flyer, right now it gets caught in the hooks!

In case you could not tell, I am very excited about this new accessory.  Perhaps I will participate in the Tour De Fleece just so I can show it off, LOL.

Happy Crafting

Spindle Experiments

IMG_1216

I love my Bottom Whorl Drop Spindle, the wooden one in the middle.  This is what I started with, adn I adore it.  I can get a good long spin, it looks cool twirling around and the hook at the top is perfect for catching on when I’m twisting my fiber.

IMG_1218Unfortunately within the concept of larger classes and getting people hooked on fiber arts, the price point is a little high for a giveaway.

On the left is a Babe Spindle without the whorl.  I needed to hit a price point to get free shipping on an order, the Babe Spindle cost less than shipping and allowed me to hit that goal so I ordered one.  It really is a neat spindle, allowing the user to decide if it is a bottom whorl or top whorl spindle in addition to allowing you to decide if you want to put one or two of the whorl discs on the spindle.  What I found neat is that if you keep the whorls off of the spindle entirely…or if they fall off because you didn’t put nearly enough tape on the shaft, oops, you can roll the shaft of the spindle down your leg and use the cup hook to hold the wool in place.  IMG_1219The shaft becomes a great little spindle, a bit awkward and no independent spinning like with my original spindle, but you have a lot more control over how the shaft spins, very neat.   This becomes a bit more of a reasonable price point, all a teacher would need to provide is a stick (dowel) with some cup hooks screwed into the top.  (also Wool)  Dowels are not that expensive, the cup hooks aren’t too bad price wise…I’d just have to find a way to get the cup hook into the dowel without it splitting.  I think I saw something about putting a nail in first to keep the wood from splitting, definitely worth considering.

Now, recently Mayan Spindles, I can’t really find out where the name came from as it does not seem to have anything to do with the Mayan Culture, have been showing up more in popular culture…okay, popular spinning culture.  This is a dead simple way of putting twist into fiber, attach the fiber on one arm, spin around, and voila yarn.  The spinning motion is very big and completely controlled by the spinner.  But the price point just went up again, a wooden Mayan Spindle (Spinner) is about $20, whew that’s a bit rich for a teacher.  However, doesn’t that spinner look a bit like a propeller?  I looked up plastic propellers on Amazon, lo and behold, they have 12 plastic propellers in a pack for under $5 with free shipping. IMG_1217 Okay, they came from China, and I’m washing them in hot soapy water before using because I’m a little paranoid.  (I didn’t realize that the Sari Silk from India might contain some really nasty diseases that are fairly rampant over there).  I try to Order American when I can, if you know of an American equivalent/retailer let me know, but these are fantastic.  They spin, just a tiny bit, on their own but allow for complete control.  They are lightweight and easily spun in one hand.  It is very easy for the spinner to see the twist as it enters into the fiber.  At about .25 each, they are cheap enough to be a giveaway that doesn’t hurt the pocket book.  I do think that I will glue the shaft to the propeller before showing these to anyone else, but it really does make for a great spindle alternative.

So, these are my Spindle Explorations!

Happy Crafting!

Warping Board Lessons

One of the ladies in the weaving guild I recently joined mentioned that a warping board is one of the least expensive pieces of equipment you can obtain.  Ow. At over $100 she may be right, but it does stand out as a good example of why weaving is an expensive craft to get started in.  If you have your Mothers or Grandmothers loom and shuttles, or if someone gives you a Loom (Thank you Linda!), then the first purchase is taken care of and the little extra bits can be slowly accumulated over time.  Admittedly, a warping board starts around $100, if you want a bobbin winder they are around $130, if you need some shuttles the wood ones start around $30+, so on and so forth.  There are a few more necessities but these are the ones that make it difficult to begin if you are lacking them.

I love these old crafts, it brings me a great deal of joy to know that I can accomplish a skill that young ladies have been working on for centuries.  That being said, I am also a modern girl and I really like my technology.  I managed to find, online and through Interweave press, plans for a warping board made out of PVC pipes.  I put this together, thanks to my local hardware store which cut the pieces for me, and took it to my first guild meeting/class.  This prompted the comment about how a warping board is one of the least expensive pieces.  For that first lesson where I wound about 80 ends of worsted weight yarn to sley my rigid heddle reed for a scarf, the board worked perfectly.  There may have been a tiny bit of bending, but not enough to effect the quality of my end product.

With this bit of success, and my loom sanded/painted/polished, I decided to try for something a little more difficult, I wanted to wind the warp for my 50 inch loom.  Due to the simple mathematics I had decided to wind my warp in 5 inch weaving segments of 50 ends (10 ends per inch over 5  inches is 50 ends).  The first five inches went wonderfully, I tied it off, created the choke points and did the crochet chain thing.  The first five inches are great.  I then tried the second five inches, at 46 ends in disaster struck and things started to bend, the top came loose and I was not happy.  I had done a counting marker so the first 40 were salvaged but the warping board was not going to work over the long term.   A little gorilla glue, okay a lot of gorilla glue, and hopefully the problem is solved.

Crafting can be very fulfilling.  There are some shortcuts that may work just fine, I have high hopes for the plastic shuttle and the bobbin winder that works on my cordless drill, but some may not work at all.  If this warping board works, then even with the glue it cost me under $20.  If it does not work, then I have learned an important lesson about what will and will not work, for under $20.

Happy Crafting!

Inkle Loom Weaving

Inkle Loom and First efforts

Since we spoke last, I purchased an Ashford Inklette loom from Woolery.  I found the service to be excellent and I adore the product I received.  You can see my progression of weaving from right to left, the right being my first efforts.  It looks good in the photo, but I had way too much weft showing and the weave wound up very loose and large compared to what inkle weaving is ‘supposed’ to look like.  After that my second effort started the same way but I got the hang of it by the end of that piece.  I’ve been having a ton of fun with the different lengths and widths I can get with this loom.  If you want to get into weaving I really suggest starting with the Inkle loom!

Choosing a Supplies and Accessories Part 2

Honestly there are so many different accessories available for spinning wheels it gets a bit overwhelming at times.  The best way I am finding to narrow things down is to remind myself what kinds of yarns I like to work with.  In looking at the different wheels I became dismayed that none of the double drive wheels have a jumbo flyer with an orifice of more than 1″.  But wait a second, the flyers of more than 1″ are for making those big funky artsy yarns….I hate knitting and crocheting with those kinds of yarns, so why would I want to make them?

Keeping considerations like that in mind allow me to remain happy with my choice of a double drive wheel while also being able to choose the accessories that will work well for me.

The main accessories I am looking into getting are:

Niddy Noddy- this will allow me to keep my skeins organized and tidy, as I get better I will want to know at least approximately how big they are so this will help with that also.

Yarn Swift- Once I know how big they are I will want to roll them into balls, I already have a center pull ball winder I love so a Yarn Swift is probably going to be my next purchase.  It will allow me to use the ball winder without the tangles I am currently getting.

Lazy Kate- this will allow me to ply my yarns without tangles and while they are tensioned.  A few of the wheels I am looking at have integrated Lazy Kates, but some reviews have indicated trouble when you have to pull the threads forward from the Lazy Kate then allow them to ply.  It would make more sense to have the Lazy Kate on the floor a big away from the wheel.  There seem to be two kinds, vertical and horizontal (arched).  I am looking at the arched version simply because I can see the entire thing toppling over if the yarn (I keep thinking of it as thread but it really is considered yarn) on the top is somehow heavier than the ones on the bottom.

Hand Carders- Okay, so this comes down to, I have a long haired cat.  I brush her constantly and she sheds a ton.  Recently I decided to keep this fur and see if I can make something from it, a bracelet or the like.  To have the fiber in a shape where I can use it to spin I can either comb it (big sharp tines) or I can card it.  I think that carding will have fewer chances that I will stab myself with the really big tines, so I am going to start with that!

Blending Board- I have some beautiful Bamboo fibers that I bought way back when.  While I might be able to spin them with the Spindolyn, odds are I am going to want to blend them with wool to create wonderful Rolags I can spin into a wonderful blended yarn.  This is also a great way to experiment with color and create my own rolags, I also have some flashing so I can add sparkle. Yay!  Okay, so these boards cost almost $200, it is probably something that will wait a while.

There are a ton of different options for all of these devices.  For the most part I will get the best quality that my budget allows.  For the yarn swift there is one on amazon that looks to be adjustable and of good quality for a very low price, I will ‘cheap-out’ and purchase that one.  Also for the ‘Niddy Noddy’ since I do not plan on using it to display yarns and only intend to have it as a functional piece I will ‘cheap-out’ on it as well and get a version made of PVC pipe.  Yes, in theory I can make this myself but for almost a cheap as the PVC pipe I can avoid the risks of cutting myself and buy it pre-made.  These are a lot of accessories when I haven’t even bought the wheel yet!  Most of them are usable before I have purchased my wheel, it might be nice to see how large some of my spun silk singles wound up being.  If I decide to make some yarn as a double or try to triple ply then the Lazy Kate will come in handy, once I have some yarn on the Niddy Noddy then the yarn swift will come in handy to use the ball winder.  Essentially these small steps all go toward the goal of having what I need to make the yarn I want.  If I can take some of these small steps without compromising the goal of saving toward my spinning wheel then so much the better.  It is a better thing to do to buy a small device than lose hope on obtaining the large!